Local News

Roanoke Rapids files lawsuit to remove theater's tenant

Posted June 18, 2010

— Roanoke Rapids has filed a lawsuit to get rid of the tenant of the city's troubled multimillion-dollar music theater, according to city leaders.

Earlier this month, the City Council authorized city attorney Gilbert Chichester to file a lawsuit to try to evict Lafayette Gatling and his company from the Roanoke Rapids Theatre.

Gatling agreed last year to a $12.5 million plan to buy the venue in an effort to help erase debt incurred from the project.

In April, the City Council voted to terminate its lease-purchase agreement with him over $182,000 in late payments.

City Manager Paul Sabiston said that although the city has asked Gatling to leave, he's still there.

The lawsuit is also trying to recoup the money Gatling owes the city, which is now in excess of $240,000, Sabiston said.

The $21.5 million, 1,500-seat Roanoke Rapids Theatre was expected to spur growth along Interstate 95 and to generate enough revenue to pay off a $21.5 million loan the city borrowed.

But poor ticket sales, management issues and the economy have kept the theater in the red, forcing local leaders to increase the local tax rate 5 cents to pay its bills.


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  • ncbeachladybug Jun 18, 2010

    What idiot bank lent Roanoke Rapids the money anyway? Just tell them to take a deed in lieu of foreclosure and let the lender worry about it. They could move RBC Bank out of Raleigh (since they already "promised" the US headquarters would be Rocky Mount) and fit it in the center. There would be plenty of parking, something seriously lacking in Raleigh.

  • SkepticalGirl Jun 18, 2010

    Or maybe it's something left behind by Randy Partin.

  • SkepticalGirl Jun 18, 2010

    Hey RaceCard, are you sure that stink is from the paper mill and not from some local politicians?

  • McLovin Jun 18, 2010

    Just tear it down, default on the loan - its not like 21.5 million dollars will add a great deal to our already enormous deficit...

  • oleguy Jun 18, 2010

    It was a great idea, I want to build a 24 million dollar redneck barn, beer hall and race track down here in Johnston County, I got the plans, Ideas, it will make me millions, Who wants to put up the money, I'm good for it, come on just send the money. anybody, tax payers?, Sitmulus money? Oboma?

  • Doctor Dataclerk Jun 18, 2010

    Couldn't they use the theater to plug the BP well in the Gulf?

    I think you're on to something. 21 million dry 1 dollar bills stuffed into the leaking pipe would have expanded enough when soaked with oil to stop the leak. BP would have saved $20billion dollars and would have been glad to have paid Roanoke Rapids back with the savings.

  • Soundguy Jun 18, 2010

    Forget the theater. Gut the building and turn it in to a motorsport museum or something of that nature that relates to the roots of North Carolina. Charge admission and draw in the tourist off I-95. In about thirty years the building would be paid off!

  • pinehorse Jun 18, 2010

    Couldn't they use the theater to plug the BP well in the Gulf?

  • Qwerty27807 Jun 18, 2010

    I suspect Branson, MO is laughing their tails off.

  • corey3rd Jun 18, 2010

    why hasn't this place burned to the ground from faulty wiring?